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Taskforce calls for reform to UK medical cannabis regulations

Experts believe the recommendations could be a “big step” for the UK industry.

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The taskforce has made key recommendations relating to the CBD sector

Industry experts have welcomed a Government taskforce call for reform to UK medical cannabis regulations.

The Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) has made two key recommendations that, if implemented, could be a major boost for the UK’s medical cannabis industry.

TIGRR was set up to review the nation’s existing legislation and seek out new opportunities in the country’s “new-found regulatory freedom” post-Brexit.

In its report, published on Wednesday 16 June, the taskforce has acknowledged that present rules governing consumer CBD products are not properly separated from the criminal law relating to banned substances derived from cannabis.

TIGRR has called for the licensing regime for cannabinoid pharmaceutical research and over-the-counter CBD products to be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health and Social Care and/or the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The UK has a fast-growing and well-established consumer market for medicinal CBD, but current Home Office rules prevent them being produced domestically, states the report. 

As a result the industry is forced to import products, leading to an economic loss of around £1 billion.

The proposal could also open up new research opportunities for the sector, with regulations making it difficult to conduct UK trials with cannabinoids – despite evidence from other countries pointing to great potential.

Ricardo Geada, partner and head of Mackrell Solicitors Cannabis & Regulatory Team, said: “If implemented this would signify a big step for the medicinal cannabis industry in the UK, as it would move licensing rules away from the criminal law on banned substances derived from cannabis, towards their medical benefits and usage. 

“Placing the decisions in the hands of departments that are focused on the properties of these medicines could help to open up the availability of domestically produced medicinal cannabis products and greatly improve research into these important medications for pain relief and many other conditions.”

In a letter to the TIGRR published just hours after the report was released, the Prime Minister has broadly welcomed the taskforce’s recommendations and announced the creation of a new Brexit Opportunities Unit to consider and implement the changes suggested. 

The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) also welcomed the key recommendations for the CBD sector which were a central proposal in its recently published Green Shoots report.

In a statement to its members, the organisation says the move could “unleash much needed investment” in cannabinoid medicines and consumer products.

“The UK already is a leading market for consumer nutraceuticals and specials and licensed medicines containing cannabinoids and these proposals will not only support the growth of all of these sectors but will lead to increased investment and innovation here within the shores of the UK,”commented CMC, pharmacy lead, Dr Andy Yates.

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“Outside of the specific cannabinoid medicines proposals included in the report, the further proposals related to optimising and modernising the clinical trials environment and the nutraceutical and consumer health sector here in the UK. As a package of measures this will truly create a go-to environment for cannabinoid innovation now and well out into the future.”

Dr Parveen Bhatarah, regulatory lead for the CMC, added: “The UK has been the largest importer of cannabis for use in the medicinal and consumer cannabinoids industry.

“These recommendations will assist in data generation for improved consumer safety and accelerated sustainable business growth in the cannabinoid sector.”

Professor Mike Barnes, chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society and co-founder of cannabis consultancy firm Maple Tree , agreed that the approach was “logical” but hoped any regulation introduced would be “clear and simple” for those in the industry, unlike what he described as the “bureaucratic nightmare” of Novel Food laws.

“I am pleased that the government report recognises that there is an increasing importance to nutraceuticals, which should include over-the-counter CBD medicines,” said Prof Barnes.

“A more coordinated approach to licensing and regulation is to be welcomed and the Department of Health is a logical base for such licensing. I just hope that any regulation is made clear and simple and not the bureaucratic nightmare which is Novel Foods regulation. We need to encourage this industry not stifle it with red tape and excess caution.”

Industry

Rapper Lil’ Kim announces new cannabis brand ‘aphrodisiac’

The New York rapper becomes the latest celebrity to launch their own cannabis collection which is due in 2022.

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Image: Instagram/lilkimthequeenbee

The singer has announced the launch of her own cannabis brand, Aphrodisiac which is being produced in partnership with Superbad inc.

Lil Kim’s new products will be available across California in 2022, although there is no official launch date announced.

The brand is being produced in collaboration with the innovative cannabis brand, Superbad inc. Superbad was established in 2020 combining cutting edge technology and sleek design for cannabis consumers. They currently have seven acres of indoor grow and a “state-of-the-art facility” employing over 200 people.

Kimberly Denise Jones who goes by her stage name, Lil’ Kim has been working on the brand for two years. She has also partnered with the brand CampNova, which offer vertically integrated marketing and a distribution platform.

The rapper wants the cannabis line to reflect her personal style and says she has personally tested her own products. The collection is tailored to Lil’ Kim’s own preference in genetics and strains.

Lil' Kim: A banner advert for Always Pure Organics

Lil’ Kim collection

There are plans to expand the range to other legal states such as Michigan, New Jersey and New York. Originally from New York, Lil’ Kim hopes to be able to release the collection in her home state.

In an interview with Forbes magazine, she said: “I’ve actually been working on this for about two and a half to three years. This is something that didn’t just come overnight. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Lil’ Kim is the latest celebrity to enter the cannabis space with her own collection. Earlier this year, Justin Bieber announced he would be releasing a collection of pre-rolls called Peaches with premium brand Palms. The products are currently available in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Florida.

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In a press release, he stated: “I’m a fan of Palms and what they are doing by making cannabis approachable and helping to destigmatise it — especially for the many people who find it helpful for their mental health.”

 

Image rights: Lil’ Kim

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Industry

Always Pure Organics: A day in the life with Chikako Yoshida

Regional Director of Asia, Chikako Yoshida, gives us a glimpse of her typical workday and discusses working in cannabis.

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Always Pure Organics: A man and a woman working on a laptop.

Chikako Yoshida, regional director of Asia for Always Pure Organics shares her experience of working in the cannabis industry.

Always Pure Organics is excited to give you a glimpse behind the curtain once again.

Join us for our latest episode of a Day in the Life, in which regional director of Asia, Chikako Yoshida discusses her experience working for Always Pure Organics and in the cannabis industry.

Always Pure Organics: A woman walking down a white and yellow hallway

In this episode, we follow our Regional Director of Asia, Chikako Yoshida, as she takes us through her typical workday. Having previously worked in counterterrorism for the United Nations, Chikako joined the APO team in May 2020. Chikako has such an interesting story to tell, we’re honoured to have her on the team as she embodies our mission to cultivate cannabis acceptance and accessibility worldwide. 

Chikako Yoshida said: “Upon learning about the power of cannabis and seeing the high potential growth of Always Pure Organics, I decided to change career from preventing illicit drugs to promoting cannabis to help people in need. I feel that by joining APO, I can help fulfil my life’s mission to support children and their families who fight against illness and sickness by providing them with cannabis products.”

Read more: Always Pure Organics achieves COSMO standard

Always Pure Organics: A banner explaining how the collaborative post works

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Epilepsy

CBGA may be ‘more potent’ than CBD against seizures in Dravet syndrome

Dr Lyndsey Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.

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Seizure: A row of test tubes containing CBGA oil with a doctors white gloved hand holding one up to the light

Scientists say they have found the ‘Mother of all cannabinoids’ which may help to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome.

A new study on mice from the University of Sydney found that three acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis reduced seizures in Dravet syndrome, an intractable form of childhood epilepsy.

The three cannabinoids are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA), cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA). All three but CBGA in particular “may contribute to the effects of cannabis-based products in childhood epilepsy” noted the researchers and were found to potentially have ‘anticonvulsant properties.”

The study marks the first time that three acidic cannabinoids were found to potentially help reduce seizures for Dravet syndrome.

Speaking with Cannabis Health News, the lead author of the study, Dr Lyndsey Anderson, said: “We found that CBGA exhibited both anticonvulsant and pro-convulsant effects. CBGA was more potent than CBD against febrile seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We also found that a combination of CBGA and clobazam was more effective than either treatment alone. Additionally, we found that CBGA was anticonvulsant in the maximal electroshock acute seizure model, a model for generalized tonic-clonic seizures.”

She added: “CBGA did, however, present some proconvulsant effects. The frequency of spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome was increased with a high dose of CBGA. Also, CBGA was proconvulsant in the 6-Hz acute seizure model, a model of focal, psychomotor seizures.”

Although CBGA shows promise, Dr Anderson also stressed that it needs more research before it can replace CBD. She cautioned that Dravet syndrome patients may still need to proceed with caution.

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“Artisanal cannabis-based products are believed to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome patients,” she said. “As these oils contain rare cannabinoids like CBGA, it is possible CBGA then contributes to the anticonvulsant effects of these artisanal cannabis oils. However, there were proconvulsant effects observed with CBGA, suggesting that Dravet syndrome patients may need to proceed with caution. The proconvulsant liability of CBGA would need to be addressed before it replaced CBD as an anticonvulsant.”

What is CBGA?

Sometimes referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids,’ CBGA is the precursor molecule to many different cannabinioids including CBD and THC. It is thought to help some diseases such as colon cancer, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid much like CBD.

Dr Anderson explains that more research is needed to explain how the three cannabinoids work together.

“We don’t know how they work together yet,” she said. “We found that CBGA, CBDVA and CBGVA were all individually anticonvulsant against thermally induced seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We did not investigate whether a combination of these three cannabinoids would result in a greater anticonvulsant effect than either cannabinoid alone. Future work will definitely explore this possibility.”  

CBGA future research

This isn’t the end of the research into CBGA for Dravet Syndrome. Dr Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.

 

She said: “Next on the horizon for this research is to explore whether the anticonvulsant properties of CBDVA and CBGVA translate to other seizure types including spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Additionally, we have extensively interrogated the anticonvulsant potential of individual cannabinoids and identified ten with anticonvulsant properties.”

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“We are now interested in investigating what happens when we combine these anticonvulsant properties. It remains an open possibility that greater anticonvulsant effects are achieved when the cannabinoids are administered in combination.”

The study was recently published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (DOI: 10.1111/bph.15661)

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